Christmas and New Year Shutdown Period

The festive season is just around the corner. It’s time to start thinking about what happens over Christmas and New Year as many businesses either shut down or have less assigned staff at work.

Planning ahead…

Employers can suggest employees to take annual leave during a shut down if their award or registered agreement or contract allows for it.

Rulings on how an employer can direct an employee to take leave, should be available within their relevant awards.

If an employee isn’t covered by an award or an agreement, the employer can direct them to take annual leave or tailor what is most suitable and reasonable.

Best practice!  Employers should provide as much notice as possible so that all parties involved are well planned ahead. Always check any applicable Modern Award or EBA to see if there are any conditions that need to be followed, such as how much notice employees should be given. (Most awards require four weeks notice).

Is there enough annual leave to take?

In the situation an agreement cannot be made, the employee needs to be paid their ordinary pay for the time. An employer cannot force an employee to take unpaid leave.

If the award or a mutual agreement is in place, an employer can request employees to take annual leave in advance of accruals so that the employee isn’t at loss, unpaid leave or a combined portion of both leave types.

What happens if public holidays occur during an employee’s annual leave?

Public holidays that occur when annual leave is taken is to be paid for at their ordinary rate and not as annual leave taken. Unpaid leave can be treated the same way as well.

Working during the shutdown period

If the business requires employees to attend work during the shutdown period, they should be paid as normal. Employees do not have to attend work if any of the days during shutdown are public holidays. On the occasion employees have to attend work on a public holiday, rates or reimbursements to compensate their attendance can be found in their award or agreement.

If you are planning an annual Shut Down, information on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website provides guidance on what you should do:

National Public Holidays
Date Day Holiday
25 December 2018 Tuesday Christmas Day
26 December 2018 Wednesday Boxing Day
01 January 2019 Tuesday New Year’s Day
28 January 2019 Monday Australia Day Holiday

Note: South Australia has a part-day public holiday for Christmas Eve (24th December) and New Year’s Eve (31st December) from 7 pm to 12 midnight.


Santa’s sleigh moves at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound.

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